The Minnesota Wild released veteran forward Ryan Carter from his PTO agreement but as Mike Russo of the Star Tribune writes, that may not be the worst of it for the rugged winger. Carter told Russo that he intends to undergo surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder and that the procedure could actually end his playing career. Even though the 33-year-old realizes his days as an NHL player could well be over, Carter feels the surgery gives him the best chance to resume playing given the style he employs.
“The timing of it isn’t great for myself or my career, but you’ve got to be healthy to play, at least I do at my age and the way I’ve got to play. There’s legitimate concern that this could be the end. Being a realist, I’m 33 years old and went into camp on a PTO. It’s a five-month rehab. It’ll be difficult to play my way back to the NHL on short notice after really eight or nine months off.”
Wild GM Chuck Fletcher didn’t shut the door completely on a possible reunion later in the season, once Carter’s rehab is complete. The real deadline for Carter if he were to return this season is March 1st, when players have to be on a roster to be eligible to play in the postseason.
Evidently, the labrum tear wasn’t picked up on an MRI conducted at the end of the 2015-16 campaign but as the summer wore on, Carter knew the injury was worse than the rotator cuff problem he experienced last season. He avoided another MRI knowing that if an injury was detected it would effectively derail any chance he had of earning an NHL job. Eventually he gave in to reality when the injury began causing problems for him on the ice.
“The pain wasn’t the bad part. I started to lose my strength and my ability to win battles. What ended up happening, I popped out a rib because I kept trying to protect my shoulder all the time. I couldn’t breathe anymore.”
Carter, a Minnesota native, spent the past two seasons with the Wild, scoring 10 goals and 15 assists in 113 games. In addition to his time with the Wild, Carter has suited up for Anaheim, Florida, Carolina and New Jersey. For his career, he’s netted 41 goals and 93 points in 473 NHL games.